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November 30, 2004

Policemen getting sick?

We can't help feeling that we're building a major health problem with our networks of mobile phone masts, and we fear the problem will worsen as the G3 masts start appearing.

One example of this advanced technology is the Tetra mobile network, which is being introduced to all 53 of the UK's police forces. It is an advanced digital network that should be fully operational by next spring, at a cost of £2.9 billion to the UK government.

As usual, the network has been introduced with all the standard scientific platitudes that it is perfectly safe. But early reports back 'from the field' suggest otherwise.

Six people based at one police station in Norfolk have all reported sick with a debilitating health condition since a Tetra mast was installed just yards from them. The police staff has suffered bouts of dizziness and severe headaches, and it's been as bad for the 25 local residents who also happen to live near the mast. Repeated nose bleeds, disturbed sleep and skin problems, especially among the children, have been reported.

The police staff has been warned not to make public their health concerns. A similar ban was imposed on one policeman, Neil Dring, who died from cancer of the oesophagus, which developed after he had been using his Tetra handset.

These incidents are not isolated examples. Some reports suggest that hundreds of policemen and women have complained of deterioration in their health since Tetra was introduced in their area.

(Source: Daily Telegraph, 14 August 2004).

05:06 AM in Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (2) | TrackBack

November 28, 2004

A Diamond Cut Through Her Heart


A diamond cut through her heart

When the diamond of her heart

Lost its sparkle, shine and lustre.

High in the sky, where her sun should have been shining

She is looking at sunset before sunrise

There is only the despondent, dark, overcast night sky

With not even the moon to provide her solace

Facing a biting cold winter instead of a spring

Facing a hurricane instead of a pleasant breeze

Facing a situation where she can't even hope against hope

Facing a station where she can't even face herself

Having seen the flower wither away and her hand entangled in thorns

Having seen her crop destroyed before she could reap it

Having seen a lifetimes investment go totally bankrupt

Having seen her world crumble before her own eyes

As a mother watches through her tear-glazed, grief-struck, shell-shocked, still-unbelieving eyes

The funeral pyre of  a piece of herself - her own son

The battle for territories by Governments may have ended

But her battle against life has just begun.

By Prerak Ved

P.S. This poem was written by a dear friend of mine. I have posted it, with his permission, of course!

05:21 AM in Poetry | Permalink | Comments (9) | TrackBack

November 22, 2004

Classic American

This is the transcript of an actual radio conversation between a United States naval vessel and the Canadians, which took place off the coast of Newfoundland in October 1995. The US Chief of Naval Operations released this  transcript into the public arena later the same month.

Canadians: Please change course 15 degrees to the south to avoid a collision.

Americans: Recommend you change your course 15 degrees to the north to avoid collision.

Canadians: Negative. You must change your course 15 degrees to the south  to avoid a collision.

Americans: This is the Captain of one of the United States' Navy's warships. I say again change your course 15 degrees north.

Canadians: Negative, I say again negative. You will have to change your  course.


Canadians: And we are a lighthouse. Your call.

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November 18, 2004

More Desi in Pardes

Ruhi Khan
London, July 26

"I'm an Indian… from Bombay city…' quite a popular old number but was never my favourite - until I stepped on the shores of the United Kingdom.

It is something in the air that does it to you. Something quite lethal and contagious - patriotic virus that causes what I call a Desi-ease. I've suffered from it time and again; I suffer from it even now as I can't refrain from masking a smile as I type the headline.

I was never a linguistic, and Hindi was somehow never my language of conversation in India. And here I'm addicted to chatting away to glory in Hindi with Indians around the firangis. (winks) Just for the record a few benefits: You don't have to worry about being overheard or minding your language. But honestly, I think most people just do it because it is fun to sound desi in pardes.

What did one Indian say to the other Indian?
Nothing that didn't have 'India' in it!

This wasn't to humour you. In fact, it is one of the many reality bites you discover when you set up camp here. I remember when my classmate invited us all home for a party. We were a houseful. We had people of almost every nationality there. But unfortunately, for them there were a couple of Indians and the only conversation that happened was about India. We kept apologising every few minutes and would change the topic to something else but within a short while it was 'India' again. We'd talk about everything under the sun that had 'India' in it: Food, clothes, people, culture, weather, movies, politics - everything that "sucked" when I was in India was now the most important topic of discussion. After all it is fun to talk desi in pardes.

A friend from Canada told me once: "When you are away from home, even the crappiest of Hindi movies would make you sit through it for three hours." That is when this desi-ease reaches the critical condition, I suppose. I could watch a pathetic film and yet, enjoy it if I can catch glimpses of Mumbai city in it. That is something that cheers me up completely, pumps up my adrenalin so much that all through the sadistic movie I will be jumping with excitement telling everyone who can hear everything about Mumbai they show in the movie. From the exotic beaches to the poverty stricken slums of Dharavi, from the batata vada at the railway station to the chat at the sea side, just everything from Aamchi Mumbai is simply a treat. After all it is fun to watch desi in pardes.

But it is not all about walking or talking desi. It is all about feeling desi. We all know the popular cliché "You can take an Indian out of India but you can never take India out of an Indian". Let me assert, quite forcefully, that it is not just a cliché but quite a fact of life. For me, it has been just a year in this country but I'm completely homesick. My family is here at the moment and I've spent a great time with them but I'm still yearning to go back home. So it is not my family that is pulling me back but the desire to relive all those days I spent in India once more.

I want to walk those beaches barefooted again, watch the sun set on the horizon, eat the yummy cheese masala dosa and bhel puri, shop at the flea market and watch a good movie or simply just hang out with friends at all those weirdest places every Mumbaite knows about. Little things that were just a part of everyday life seem so precious once you are away. We all crib in India, we all wish to go abroad to study or work, but it is when you go away that you truly realize what you have lost.

India with all its negativities is yet an amazing place. It teaches you a great deal about yourself and about life. It makes you stronger and matured. It inculcates values in you which are rare in Western societies. And it gives you a reason to celebrate life and relationships. It is not just fun but it is something to be proud of- being a desi in pardes.

(Ruhi Khan is doing her MA in International Journalism from City University, London)

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November 14, 2004

The Saree Story

So, I finally accomplished the impossible..I spent 6 whole hours in a saree and didn't trip over once. I had adorned a saree on numerous occasions previously, but this was the first time that I didn't end up flat on my face! And I also discovered that a saree is surprisingly comfortable (once you master the art of walking in it!), not to mention the fact that it looks extremely elegant. My friend, Zoo, stated in his comment that I looked 'really stunning'. Although I am rather flattered by this comment, he does have a tendancy to go overboard with his compliments. I did look alright but there were so many girls out there who looked absolutely gorgeous!

Tonight I have to attend another pre-wedding garba, which means I'll have to dig out my chaniya choli and pray that it still fits! Here goes nothing...

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November 11, 2004

Happy Diwali

Happy Diwali and a Happy New Year! I can't believe that it is that time of the year again. Our kitchen is well stocked with the various sweets that my grandmother has labouriously prepared over the past week. Naturally, my contribution in all this to to consume the sweets, put on weight, spend the following year endeavouring to lose that weight, only to put it all back during Diwali next year. But you know what, for all my complaining, I would not give all this up for the world. The togetherness of family, blessings of elders, pranks of the youngsters (not that I am too old myself!!), eating those lard-filled sweets and listening to the merry crackling of the fireworks is what makes my Diwali special. I hope yours is just as special.

P.S. I am especially excited as I am planning to wear this gorgeous saree on New Year's Day. Given my exceedingly clumsy tendencies, merely getting from my room to the front door might prove to be a mission in itself. I'll keep you posted!

P.P.S I watched Veer-Zaara, so watch out for my review. 

07:35 PM in Personal | Permalink | Comments (7) | TrackBack

November 08, 2004

Good Quips

* Regular naps prevent old age... especially if you take them while driving.

*  Having one child makes you a parent; having two you are a referee.

* Marriage is a relationship in which one person is always right and the other is husband!

* They call our language the mother tongue because the father seldom gets to speak.

* I believe we should all pay our tax with a smile. I tried - but they wanted cash

* A child's greatest period of growth is the month after you've purchased new school uniforms.

* Don't feel bad. A lot of people have no talent.

* Don't marry the person you want to live with, marry the one you cannot live without... but whatever you do, you'll regret it later.

* You can't buy love . . . but you pay heavily for it

* Bad officials are elected by good citizens who do not vote.

* My wife and I always compromise. I admit I'm wrong and she agrees with me.

* Those who can't laugh at themselves leave the job to others.

* Ladies first, pretty ladies sooner.

* It doesn't matter how often a married man changes his job, he still ends up with the same boss.

* Real friends are the ones who survive transitions between address books.

* Saving is the best thing, especially when your parents have done it for you.

07:11 PM | Permalink | Comments (8) | TrackBack

November 02, 2004

A miracle remedy

Via SV, the queen of good posts :-)

If we offered you a miracle remedy that prevents cardiac disease, certain types of cancer, diabetes, obesity, tooth decay and varicose veins, would you buy it? Certainly you would.

There is such a product. But it is not a recent discovery and you won’t find it in a pharmacy but at the grocery store.

We are talking about fiber.

A study conducted in Holland on 871 men, over a period of ten years, showed that subjects who had a low fiber diet were three times more susceptible to mortal disease - causes notwithstanding - than those who ate a lot of fiber (Future Youth).

This said, it cannot be confirmed at present that fiber prevents the above mentioned diseases in all cases. But there is conclusive proof that they occur more frequently in populations with low fiber diets which is precisely the case in the west.

According to The Lancet (the British Medical Journal) a diet which contains at least 37 grams of fiber per day (the equivalent of one cup of bran, one apple, one potato and a half cup of cooked spinach) can effectively protect the organism against chronic illnesses common to western society.

So fiber is useful in combating many disorders besides constipation.

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November 01, 2004

Birthday girl


At 31 if you have a wax doll that looks like you and you have the world gawking, I suppose you have arrived.

You could then wear little dogs or some such around your neck and pretend all designer wear is necessarily good even if it has people giggling behind their polite hands. You could serve a completely thanda balle balle with a reasonably hot hunk, and still have the world at your feet.

You could deliver a turkey with your constant companion which a mythical kiss or even the world's biggest superstar can't salvage when he asks " Kyon, ho gaya naa ?" You still are Miss World 10 years from when you were Miss World. When you are Ash, the world's your oyster.

Tried fitting my extra large feet into the dainty glass slippers of this Cinderella, if only for a moment, if only in the world of dreams. Voila! Look at me now.

The hot air is invigorating, the hype addictive. I must be the world's most beautiful woman, because the world says so - take a hike Angelina Jolie.

Gurinder Chadha is a pal. Since everyone's talking her new flick Bride and Prejudice, let's give her full marks for dressing me in the colours of spring while making sure big sis Namrata Shirodkar was kept plain and dowdy so no there'd be no upstaging and stuff.

For all those who felt the chemistry between that chap Martin Henderson and me was conspicuous by its absence, blame the man. Perhaps he was uncomfortable sharing the stage with a blazing star.

And for my taste in clothes - just check out my taste in men. You'd positively swear by what I wear if you compared.

I think all this negative energy that they pour around me is positively green in colour.

Let's face it, I have done at a very young age what others have not done till very late in their careers, if at all.

Did you say served on the Cannes jury? Well that too. I was actually talking about hamming and mincing my way into the line-up of Bollywood legends. I am unforgettable.

My films may flop right, left and centre, but I refuse to believe the audience rejects me.

It has to be the script, the director, the producer, the co-star, the comic, the spot boy - never me.

Look at the reams of newsprint that I consume. Look at the air time that I am dedicated. Serious cinema - read arty Bengali directors - can't see beyond me.

I am the muse. I am Aishwarya Rai. They don't come bigger than this. Happy Birthday to me.

12:20 PM in Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (3) | TrackBack